A friend of mine lost her baby recently...in the womb. The devastation was indescribable. Her anguish, palpable. She asked me to share some thoughts at a private burial. Nothing is more difficult than standing in the presence of that kind of pain and struggling to say something, anything... that might comfort.
When we deal with things we don’t understand, the best question to ask is not “Why?” but rather “How?” How can I cope with this? How can I get through this? How can I go on?
I shared four thoughts with my friend and her husband.
Understand that this child's death is no one’s fault. It’s not your fault, or the doctor’s, or anyone else’s. In spite of exceptional medical care, no one ever knows when a pregnancy will take a turn for the worse. Life is full of tragedies, and many are simply unexplainable. I have a long list of questions I plan to ask when I get to Heaven. People say to me, "Oh, it won't matter then." Yes it will. It will matter to me...and I believe the Lord will listen to (and answer) each question with patience and love. Yours too. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now we see through a glass dimly, but then, face to face.”
Embrace the reality that this little life is with the Lord. That’s not just wishful thinking, it's the teaching of scripture. When King David’s baby boy died, he wrote in II Samuel 12:23, “He cannot come to me, but someday I will go to him.” David knew his son was in Heaven, and he knew that someday he would see him again. Blessed hope. One can face anything as long as there's hope.
Jesus once said, “Let the little children come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” No one ever loved children the way Jesus does…and we can be sure that every little one who has died prematurely or otherwise is being loved by the Lord with a depth of love that is simply incomprehensible.
Lives touched by tragedy CAN find the strength to go on. The key is to put our trust in God, especially when no part of our soul wants to do that. All the water in the world cannot sink a ship unless the water gets inside. In the same way, all the sorrow in the world cannot sink us as long as our lives stay filled with God. Nothing but the ocean of his mercy and love can keep us afloat.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that God doesn’t give strength on credit—he gives it to us the moment we need it, day by day. “I know the plans I have for you,” Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Plans to give you a hope and a future.” As we move into tomorrow, God moves with us, incrementally, moment by moment, day by day...uncertain though it may be.
Finally, we need to understand that even though grief is the normal response to loss, we need not grieve alone. I love the story in John 11 where Jesus arrives at the grave of his friend, Lazarus. Other friends are there too and they’re all weeping, and the Bible says in vs. 29 that Jesus cried too. Catch that: God cried. No other religion in the world puts forth a God Who cries. No one could dream that up. If Jesus hadn't lived, we would never know a God Who cries.
When your pain is indescribable, try to remember that He feels it with you, and He cares. He understands our suffering. Someday He'll say, "Gabriel, blow your trumpet. Son, mount your horse. It's time." On that day, this pain-filled existence will be over for all of us, and a grand and glorious reunion awaits. Some days I can hardly go on without reminding myself of that reality.
Are you hurting today? I'm sorry. Truly I am. I can't give you answers, but I can tell you that Jesus cares. "I will never leave your nor forsake you," the writer of Hebrews said about Him. I've found that to be true, even when life is no more than a scant tree on a barren hilltop bent to the ground by the brutal, bitter winds of winter.
The tree survives...dear one...because of its roots. You will too, my friend. Keep your roots in God. All storms eventually give way to sunlight again. Hang on. Please...do it for those who love you...and do it for the little one who is waiting for you to hold him or her on the other side.